Being overly intellectual can actually become a hindrance if you’re acting. “Sometimes I’ll say, ‘Stop thinking and do!’” said long-time theater director Melissa Firlit. “To act is to do. You learn the information in trying. Use those impulses, don’t sit on them. I can’t do anything if you come in with no opinions or ideas about who you are in this role.” Firlit’s performing adjustments change based on the input actors provide her with. “It’s a blending, and that’s when great collaboration starts to take place,” she said.
Movie stars are celebrity gods in America, the most esteemed examples of acting we hold dear. Stage actors are respected, too – but not nearly as widely. Other countries (like England), revere their classically-trained stage performers, and those same actors tend to become film stars in their own right (Alan Rickman, Lauren Olivier, Helen Mirren).
However, film acting and stage acting are divergent forms of expression. “It’s interesting how you have to adapt to your space in theater,” Firlit said. “For film, it’s really more the angles and the shots, which a director has to work through.”
In film acting, it’s all about the face, the delicate nuance of an expression, what you can convey with your eyes to enchant the camera. That omnipresent device gets so close, it easily captures the slightest, quietest movement, and imbues it with an intimacy that resonates on-screen. In theater acting, everything needs to be bigger. Actors have to emote more vividly. There are no close-ups, zooms, or myriad angles from which to view a scene. Audience members in the nosebleed section are meant to experience the same performance as those rich people in the front rows. “We were in a smaller space before we moved into this theater (at Fort Lewis College), and once we moved, everything had to get larger,” Firlit said. “What was enough in our other space, a quarter of this size, wasn’t enough to move an audience here.”
Anya Jaremko-GreenwoldDGO Staff Writer